Working with Your Baker: Learn the Language

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2001

That orange mousseline paired with white genoise and topped with alabaster fondant and miniature lilies sounds beautiful, but what exactly is it? Like all specialists, bakers have their own vocabulary, and knowing their language makes it easier to communicate.

Fondant: An ultrasmooth sugar icing that seamlessly drapes a cake. Its matte finish is an ideal canvas for appliques, royal-icing brocade work, or sugar flowers.

Buttercream: A buttery soft icing or filling that can be blended with anything from apricot puree to burnt caramel. Like fondant, it can be tinted to match your color scheme.

Genoise: A moist European sponge cake, less sweet than the American version. Usually flavored with syrup, this cake works best with a light filling and icing, such as whipped cream.

Ganache: A rich frosting or filling, created by the Swiss, that combines chocolate and heavy cream. Ganaches don't usually hold up well in humid weather.

Mouselline: An icing or filling enriched with whipped cream for a light, smooth texture. You could have a mousseline buttercream, for instance, flavored with chocolate or fruit.

Marzipan: A paste made of ground almonds, used for edible cake decorations in such shapes as flowers or fruit. Some bakers use a thin layer of marzipan as a filling or to cover a cake.

Creme Anglaise: A smooth custard, sometimes placed under slices of cake. It can be flavored with Grand Marnier, chocolate, or pistachios, giving it a beautiful pale-green hue.

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